Small Talk in Japanese

Could be he doesn’t know you like that yet. Or, people in Japan often keep their home lives separate from their work lives. Some don’t talk about their families or anything. It’s not uncommon for coworkers to not know each others first names, or spouses names or anything so maybe he felt a bit weird about it. Or he could just be a jerk.

I think recommendations about places/foods/things to do might be a good place to start. It can then open up the chance for an exchange where you ask them about things they like based on their answers.


Or he murdered someone and thinks you’re on to him.




Yes on the asking for recommendations! Japanese people are usually delighted to make recommendations and give advice. It’s actually a bit of a reason I have a hard time making friends since I’m kinda independent. But my foreign friends and coworkers who went this route were just swimming in friends and acquaintances. Ask about local attractions, restaurants, gyms… whatever. Try to tailor it to your coworkers interest like if they are a bookworm ask about books.

Also one that works for foreigners is asking about Japanese culture. Keep it general and light. If you ask too hard of a culture question they may not know the answer and be embarrassed. Like ask about upcoming holidays or season stuff.

Speaking of season stuff, talking about the weather is always great. And the weather is always crazy in Japan so it’s not like there is a lack of subject matter.

Good luck <3


Ask them what their wanikani level is


People keep their lives separate for sure, but I wasn’t trying to ask him about girlfriends or anything like that. I actually kind of already knew what he did half the weekend. It was common knowledge that he played with a club, but he wouldn’t even mention that…

Definitely asking more recommendations from coworkers, thanks :slight_smile:

I made the mistake of asking an English speaking coworker about graveyard etiquette and accidentally made things awkward. We’re friends now though.

I just get really tired of talking of the weather :sweat_smile:

Thank you!


Well you’re friends now though lol mission accomplished <3

Just keep trying, either you’ll become a social butterfly or have a serious talk with HR. hahaha


Update: I think I’m off to a good start!

I was visiting the outdoor vending machines and a car alarm went off, so I asked the admin lady who happened to be nearby “nani kore?” I quickly realized I should probably start off more politely and she quickly changed the subject, but we chatted!

I found out what a coworker’s job actually is and got undeserved praise for learning kanji.

I had like 3-4 false starts to another convo, but got to talk about sharks briefly!


If there was a long weekend or a holiday it’s typical for people to ask how it was or what you did but I don’t often hear coworkers asking about each others (normal) weekends.

Edit: I do think this has a lot to do with what some others have mentioned earlier about a separate private and work life. A vacation is sort of “news” that people are usually happy to share but if they did something at home they will likely just say “nothing special” or something along that lines and that’s the end of it.


Wait so you asked about the vending machine or the alarm? これ is something close to you, so in the latter case I would probably use あれ. But I guess it could mean like “this sound around us” if indicated by the context.


The alarm, but I meant it in a “wth” kind of way because I listen to too many young people’s conversations. I was a bit more worried about the politeness though because she is the member of the admin responsible for taking care of my paycheck. :sweat_smile:


Your wage is going to be docked for every improper usage of slang now…


Nothing to do about it now. Getting good at changing your speech according to your speaking partner takes time, but most of all it takes practice. I would recommend trying to stick to ます/です in all conversations, since you need to use that in professional settings as well as with (your) seniors. It’s better to be a bit too polite, than to be too impolite (in most situations), and the effort counts for a lot even if you make mistakes.

Maybe switch your media consumption more to drama shows and awsy from anime, where there will be a more balanced mix of speech levels. I personally am enjoying 忘却のサチコ on Netflix a lot at the moment, though the leading role actually goes a bit far with keigo.

Try to have your internal dialogues in マス形 as much as you can!

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I haven’t watched anime with any frequency in the past year though :sweat_smile:
Watching tv gets either boring or stressful most of the time because I only have five channels. I don’t have real Internet either, so streaming anything can be a pain. I’m planning to start looking into getting Internet though.

My most frequent speaking partner hates keigo, so unless I don’t know the short form but know the ~masu form of a verb, we pretty exclusively use informal speech. Aside from store interactions and listening to phone calls, most of what I hear is informal speech.

マス形 is hardly keigo :sweat_smile:

If you can borrow someone’s Netflix account, certain content is available for download, so you could do that in a library or someplace, then watch at home, no streaming necessary.

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In fact, it’s 丁寧語. :slightly_smiling_face:


How about お黙りなさいませ.

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She doesn’t even like 丁寧, so I tend to lump it together with 敬語. Although when I looked up to make sure I had the kanji right it seems I’m not the only one who lumps them together,

Honorifics in Japanese, or keigo (敬語), fall under three main categories: sonkeigo (尊敬語), respectful language; kenjōgo (謙譲語),[note 1] humble language (or “modest language”); and teineigo (丁寧語), polite language.

Honorific speech in Japanese - Wikipedia

I think the only times she preferred 丁寧 was for ませんか suggestions.

I’ll look into what I can download then. Do you know if it’s possible to download with subtitles (just going for Japanese at least, but if I can download two tracks vpn that would be great)?

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When you download with netflix you download all available subtitles I think. Which subtitles are available depends on the program.

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Lmao they always say: 今日はあついだね~ to you anyway hahaha